The UK’s NHS Project Breathe began in early 2019. The purpose of the project is to give cystic fibrosis patients greater control over their health and wellness through the use of spirometers and other biometric measurement devices. Patients monitor their weight, lung function, oxygen saturation, and other significant indicators with the devices. There are two primary goals: to detect deterioration early to start treatment quickly and to get immediate results feedback when starting or stopping various therapies. One of the project’s specific aims is to reduce the number of times patients need to go to a clinic or hospital for checkups.

Because cystic fibrosis patients are at high risk from the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK government advised the NHS to expand Project Breathe to include all patients in the UK age six years and up. All patients will be given a spirometer that measures lung capacity and a mobile app to share the data with their physician. The NHS will distribute spirometers and apps to approximately 4,000 people across England.

At the same time as the Project Breathe expansion, the NHS is running a trial with COVID-19 patients. The NHS provided oximeters to 150 people recovering at home to monitor any drops in blood oxygen levels during their recovery. Clinicians monitor the patients’ temperature, heart rate, and blood oxygen saturation in real-time in virtual recovery wards. The oximeter project is run by NHSX, the NHS digital transformation unit in conjunction with Huma, a British digital healthcare company. NHSX and Huma will also expand the oximeter project with more COVID-19 patients.

The NHS had already begun home health monitoring projects, but OVID-19 has accelerated the efforts, taking advantage of the systems already in place.